Students should utilize stress relief resources on campus during finals

Khadija Saifullah

The end of the semester is an immensely stressful time on campus, and the construction in front of the suddenly overpopulated Perry-Castañeda Library doesn’t help much. But, every year, the University offers a variety of sources to help students cope with this stress as finals are closer than we want them to be.

A variety of activities ease students into final exams, from therapy dogs in the PCL to free food and care packages distributed around campus. However, as all-nighters inevitably become more frequent, there isn’t a single coffee shop on campus that’s open after 10 p.m. This is probably a sufficient closing time during a normal week and during any other time of the semester, but students in finals week need access to an extra push.

Millennial college students’ stress is different — and perhaps greater — than that of past college students. Academic expectations are increasing, as are student loans and tuition costs, especially since the University has confirmed that tuition will be increased for the next two years.

In addition to having higher stress, Jane Morgan Bost, former associate director of the Counseling and Mental Health Center at UT-Austin, believes that students also have fewer tools to handle that stress.

“I’m not sure students have learned adequate coping skills in dealing with stress,” Bost says in a 2013 interview with KUT. “Students today tend to be more perfectionist. I think they have a harder time rebounding, being resilient and growing from mistakes and failure. Students put an enormous amount of pressure on themselves.”

Taking breaks actually enhances productive learning. Breaks may feel like running away from responsibilities, but it is actually a way to refresh and dive back into the fight more effectively. Continuous time on-task sets off strain reactions, such as stress, fatigue and worsened mood, which drain focus and physiological resources. The brain’s ability to self-regulate and stay disciplined wanes with each exercise of self-control during the day. It’s a loss of resources that must be replenished, or it becomes harder to stay on-task, be attentive and solve problems.

Every finals week, the University provides a variety of services and resources to help students cope with the stress and anxiety that fills the aura on campus during finals week. From bringing puppies to the PCL to free food and a movie at the Alumni Center, these activities may seem like a waste of time, but actually provide a much-needed break from the stress that comes from studying for finals.

Saifullah is a neuroscience sophomore from Richardson. Saifullah is a senior columnist. Follow her on Twitter @coolstorysunao.

Editor's Note: This article has been updated since its initial publication to reflect the year of Jane Bost's interview, that Bost no longer works with CMHC, and to correct a typo related to CMHC's name.